From there it was on to Boston College, where he played two years of junior varsity before “it was the end of the road for me.” Still, the experience proved invaluable.
“I just loved hockey, going to games and being around the game. It was a passion,” said McDonald. “I was roomates with Kenny Hodge and Eddie McCarthy there were both on the BC varsity, and I went to as many games, home and away, as humanly possible.
“As it turns out, I went to graduate school for sports management and had to do an internship (in 1988). My friendship with Kenny helped set up an interview for me, through his dad (Ken Hodge Sr.) with Phil Esposito, who was the GM of the New York Rangers. I wound up doing an internship with the Rangers for the entire 1988-89 NHL season.”
Esposito was fired by the Rangers in 1989 just as McDonald was ending grad school, and 35-year-old Neil Smith was hired by the Rangers. As the youngest general manager in the NHL Smith wanted to make some changes, and one of those was promoting the person McDonald did his internship with. That, in turn, created a full-time job for him as Director of Public Relations. Working closely with both Smith and the assistant GM, Lynn native Larry Pleau, he gained “a ton of experience.”
During the ‘94-95 lockout, he’d go with Pleau to college and AHL games (the Rangers’ minor league team was in Binghamton, N.Y., 5 hours away) and cut his teeth as a scout. Pleau would tell him what the organization was looking for in its game reports, and they’d spent the car rides home discussing what they had just seen.
McDonald won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and began scouting full-time for them in 1995. When Smith was let go by the Rangers in 2001 Pleau had already moved to St. Louis, so McDonald followed him and has worked for the Blues ever since.